Detained in Tajikistan, or hiding from the Taliban in Afghanistan, many pilots wonder why the military that trained them is not coming to their aid, The New York Times reported on November 7.

The New York Times says at least 143 Afghan army pilots and co-pilots who had flown to Tajikistan on the day of the collapse were being detained in the country.

The young Afghan Air Force pilot reportedly flew his PC-12 turboprop from Afghanistan to neighboring Tajikistan to escape.  Like other Afghan officers who fled in dozens of military aircraft to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the pilot had faith that his American military partners would rescue him.

The New York Times says the lieutenant is among 143 Afghan pilots and crew members now detained by the Tajik authorities.  They are English speakers trained by the U.S. Air Force, and they are reportedly counting on the American government or military to evacuate them, and also to help evacuate their families back home in Afghanistan.

Several thousand other Afghan Air Force pilots and crew members are in hiding in Afghanistan, feeling abandoned by the U.S. military, their longtime combat ally, The New York Times say, noting that they say they and their families are at risk of being hunted down and killed by the Taliban.

Brig. Gen. David Hicks, a retired Air Force officer who is chief executive of Operation Sacred Promise, reportedly said the group, formed in August, had received desperate messages from stranded pilots asking whether the U.S. government had a plan to get them to safety.

“We found out that there was no plan by the U.S. to do anything to get these folks out,” said General Hicks, who once commanded the U.S.-led air force training mission in Afghanistan.

He said: “The U.S. has spent millions and millions on these highly educated and highly motivated individuals. Based on what they did fighting the Taliban, we think they deserve priority.”

The U.S. Department of State, meanwhile, has said it is in regular contact with the Tajik government, “and part of those communications includes coordination in response to Afghan Air Force pilots.”

The Tajikistan Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to email messages requesting comment, according to The New York Times.

The New York Times says that according to an October 31 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, about 25 percent of the Afghan Air Force’s aircraft were flown to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan during Afghanistan’s collapse.  General Hicks reportedly put the number at 56 to 60 aircraft.